Some downtime and a book or two

I read a wonderful book over the holidays: Five Ways of Being by Jane Danvers, Heather De Blasio and Gavin Grift. Written by three passionate educational leadership experts, the book is intended for middle and senior school leaders to inspire them to continue with their own learning journeys for school improvement and personal and professional growth. As I was reading, I couldn’t help but notice how applicable this book is for everyone in our community, because each of us is, in some capacity and in our own way, a leader.

Perhaps what I loved most was that through some honest reflection and by following some of their suggested strategies to form habits of behaviour, the reader has the opportunity to develop insight into their own character. Of course, this is a book that can be enjoyed without participation, however, there’s also the opportunity to journey into some growth if the reader is up for it.

So what are the “Five Ways”? The first is Being Trusting, which emphasises the strength of relationships in making a difference in (school) communities. It talks about the connection and confidence this builds between people and groups. The second is Being Brave, and choosing courage over comfort and taking action amid uncertainty and ambiguity when making decisions. It recognises challenge, and encourages a calm sense of self when doing so. The third is Being a Storyteller, and I love this one. It highlights the importance of bringing everyone into the story and keeping that story alive. Communicating values and articulating culture with intention is incredibly valuable, in all walks of life.

The fourth is the art of Being Purposeful. It talks about making conscious choices within the complexities of dynamic, complex school systems, but also giving consideration to those impacted by any decision. This is when they argue that leaders must bring their whole selves to the moment when making decisions, and keeping true to the values of the school or organisation. The final way highlights the importance of Being Growth-Focused, and developing a culture that embraces growth through developing the capacity of the community in “leaders” and “non-leaders” alike. Providing support and resources, allowing space for reflection but also for challenge, and committing to growing others are the essential ingredients argued by the authors.

It’s a book I thoroughly enjoyed, and would recommend to anyone interested in navigating leadership and the development of self.

Ms Ellena Papas
Executive Director (Operations)